Videoconferencing and telepresence are pushing beyond the enterprise and filtering down into the small and midsize business markets. For example, Infonetics predicts enterprises will spend $5 billion on videoconferencing and telepresence systems by 2015, and Frost & Sullivan forecasts the web conferencing and collaboration market will reach $4.12 billion by 2014. But videoconferencing software provider Nefsis says increased spending by SMBs will play a major role in all that growth. The big question: Can MSPs generate recurring monthly revenues from video?
Nefsis says videoconferencing is moving beyond a boardroom tool and becoming a means for a distributed enterprise (which includes many SMBs) to seamlessly link remote employees and partners. Most important to this evolving video conferencing model is a true cloud infrastructure consisting of a distributed network of servers that reacts in real-time to conference events and network conditions, powering automated load-balancing, fail-over, and high scalability.
Fortunately for MSPs, few SMBs can realistically build or manage such an infrastructure. Using cloud technology, MSPs can provide SMBs with both the videoconferencing capabilities and affordable cost they need.
Nefsis advises that other important features of a videoconferencing system for SMBs include some form of variable bitrate encoding or scalable video for ensuring smooth operation via existing networks and variable network conditions prevalent in desktop and on-the-fly video conferencing, as well as seamlessly integrated collaboration tools. In addition, MSPs should include built-in network diagnostics, Quality of Service (QoS) compatibility, firewall and proxy traversal, and industry standard SSL/TLS security for all web, VoIP and video data to ensure video conferencing runs well over existing customer networks and the networks of those they wish to conference with.
Look to the Deeper MessageAs is always the case when a software vendor presents statistics, MSPs need to closely examine the underlying intent. Not so coincidentally, Nefsis says its videoconferencing software includes all of these and other important features, and also says its product mix is now 90% cloud-based SaaS solutions.
While this does not mean the videoconferencing information Nefsis presents lacks validity, it does mean MSPs need to sift through the grains of the sales pitch to find the gold. In addition, MSPs need to see the deeper message here. Namely, it’s not just that SMBs are embracing videoconferencing, or cloud computing, or mobile devices, or whatever other latest and greatest technology is coming down the pike. More significantly, MSPs need to understand SMBs are increasingly using leading edge systems once reserved for the "big boys."
MSPs serving SMB clients need not jump on the videoconferencing bandwagon to be successful, but they do need to keep an awareness of how the needs and wants of the SMB marketplace are changing.